Hey bands, musicians, performers, artists. We all do this one insipid thing to our audiences. This truly, very lame, very shitty, thing.
Audibly tuning on stage? Noodling in between songs? Stopping a song midway when you fuck up? Leaving the club as soon as you’re done playing?
Look, I could carry that list on for a long, long time, writing years worth of blog posts about ghastly things bands do during their performances, and I probably will. Bands are frequently stupid.
But what I’m talking about is the crappy, selfish thing we do to our fans (or, let’s be honest, for most of you, your friends and family) before we even take the stage. The one thing we all do in the weeks leading up to a gig.
We promote an earlier set time.
No big deal, right? This way people won’t miss our awesome show! Besides, everyone always shows up late, so it’s like telling them to show up on time, right? If we’re playing at 8. We say 7:30. Or 7:45. Or 7. Because we’re assholes. Selfish assholes.
Try and think of other mass scenarios where it’s acceptable to have someone wait thirty minutes or more for you to get down to business just because you were worried they’re not going to show up on time. Think of how many people in your life enjoy being lied to for the sake of your ego.
People are already taking time out of their night to come and see your terrible band play, why the hell do you want to waste more of their time?
Here’s what generally happens when we lie about our actual set time:
- Most people show up on time, or early, because they’re awesome and supportive and they like either you or your music. Now they have to stand around and watch another - likely horrifying - band play for an hour, all because you were too afraid they would come late. It’s loud, so they can’t have a conversation. You’re busy getting ready or flirting with the sound engineer, or whatever, so your audience is just kinda hanging out and slowly realizing they should never trust you again.
- People post on your Facebook event, or email/text you, ‘hey, when are you actually going on’. And you - you asshole - you either lie to them again or stammer and tell them the actual time anyway like a kid caught urinating in their own mouth. No, don't worry, I put it earlier on the event for everyone else, you're cool so you get the real time! You dick.
- Most of the time, you go on later than your actual scheduled time. So that 30 minutes of padding becomes an hour or more of people's time. PEOPLE WHO PAID GOOD MONEY TO COME SEE YOUR TERRIBLE BAND.
Notice the pattern here? We’re basically pissing all over our audience’s trust. The next time - if they decide to come at all - they’ll just come later anyway.
And it’s not just bands who do this. Booking agents ask us all the time to make sure to tell people our set time is 30 minutes earlier than it actually is! And we listen to them because, if anyone in the music industry is more selfish than a booking agent, it’s a goddamn musician.
I fear it may be too late to change this. We’ve trained our audiences - both friends and fans - to mistrust our set times. So now we get a melange of folks who just have no damn clue when the hell we’ll actually play.
I know I’ve been guilty of this numerous times. And I’m going to stop this. Say it together: We will stop lying and being selfish assholes to our audiences.
Here’s a solution: Put up your actual set time, then say something like “We’re gonna be there for about an hour before we play, so come hang out!”
Unless your band is full of idiots who only show up right before they’re about to go on stage. That’s another issue, for another time.